I am presently in my study preparing for the third message in the Parenthood series. I really should continue with this preparation, but I was reminded of an important truth. I wanted to write it out before I forgot.
Our Scripture lesson this morning will be Mark 7:21-30, which is the story of the Syrophoenician woman’s faith. You may recall, she pleads for Jesus to care for the need of her daughter. Jesus (initially) declines through the use of a metaphor: “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” (v. 27)
Our message this morning will focus upon the woman’s response to Jesus and the persistence of faith delivered through these words. I am excited about this message…!
In the midst of my final preparation this morning, I was thinking about the words Jesus spoke to this woman. He cannot tend to the care of the woman’s child, because it would not be fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.
The heart of the Christian faith rests in the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ – these events certainly have eschatological significance. The ministry of Jesus cannot be overlooked, either! Jesus certainly was and is for all people, but Jesus clearly understood the Israelites, the people of the covenant, to be the primary focus of his ministry.
As the people of the covenant, the Israelites were uniquely responsible for revealing God to the world…in a way that no other people had made God known. God would reveal God’s self through the covenantal relationship shared between these two parties. The ministry of Jesus (to the Israelites) sought to proclaim the good news of the nearing of the kingdom of God and the need to repent and believe! Jesus sought to extend the grace and mercy of God to the people of the covenant so they might “turn back” and be restored to proper relationship with God, whom they were in covenantal relation.
The “food for the children” that should not be taken is the grace and the mercy prepared for the Israelites. Jesus offers this food – this grace and mercy – to sustain the life of the Israelites and their relationship with God. Jesus does not believe it is right to take what has been prepared for them and give it to those outside of the covenant (yet!!!, time will come, but he is still nurturing the covenant).
Again, I will address the response of this woman in my message this morning, which will be posted tomorrow afternoon.
As I am sitting here, thinking about these words, its occurs to me the degree of faith God has for all of us.
The necessity of Jesus to minister to the Israelites suggests something amazing – there is a need for them to repent, because they truly have been given freedom of will. While they were offered a privileged relationship with God, the formation of this covenant did not mean God would determine their actions. The Israelites would have the freedom of will; they would choose how they would live out their covenantal vow! And, even when the relationship was strained (time and again), God would empower Jesus with the divine Word to speak truth and to encourage repentance. God would actively work to encourage the people of the covenant to return to God before forming a new covenant with all people through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The possibility of a relationship with God is there for all of us! We can enter into a covenantal relationship with God, but this relationship does not mean God determines our actions. Nor does this mean our actions no longer have consequence. We still have freedom of will. God trusts us to choose (and choose on a daily basis) to live out our covenant vow. I think this is pretty astounding, really! God has faith in all of us to choose the right path, which will strengthen our relationship with God through Jesus. God knows how vulnerable we can be. And, yet, God has chosen not to determine our actions. God has entrusted us with our half of the covenant, holding faith in us to fulfill it.
What does this mean for you? It means someone or something superior to all of us believes in you, trusts you, and has faith in you…
That’s pretty remarkable.